Claude Richmond at Law Society of BC debate on TWU law school.

Claude Richmond at Law Society of BC debate on TWU law school.

Controversial Trinity Western law school wins approval

Law Society of B.C. votes 20-6 to accredit TWU after debate pitting gay rights against religious freedom

Law Society of B.C. directors voted 20-6 today to recognize Trinity Western University’s planned faith-based law school.

Opponents argued the Langley university’s community covenant prohibiting “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation against gay and lesbian law students and faculty.

“In my opinion, Trinity Western University’s community covenant is an anachronism and a throwback that wouldn’t be out of place in the 1960s,” said lawyer Cameron Ward, one of the society’s directors who voted for a motion to deny accreditation to TWU.

The law school already has approval from the provincial government to open but the law society controls who can practise as a lawyer in B.C.

Several law society directors, known as benchers, said they could not justify rejecting TWU’s grads, citing a 2001 Supreme Court of Canada ruling in favour of Trinity on religious freedom.

Miriam Kresivo, one of the society’s benchers, said she doesn’t believe the society can bar TWU “even though the covenant may be abhorrent to me.”

Others said the law society cannot presume in advance that TWU grads would act contrary to the standards of the legal profession.

“The Law Society of B.C is not a belief regulator, we are a conduct regulator,” Kamloops lawyer Ken Walker said.

“We must not trample on the rights of one group of society to satisfy the rights of another,” added bencher Claude Richmond, who also voted against the motion to deny TWU accreditation.

Some benchers who voted with the majority noted the law society could review and revoke TWU accreditation in future if it had grounds to do so.

Victoria lawyer Pinder Cheema was one of the benchers who urged TWU to revise its covenant, predicting its “offensive reputation” will otherwise follow the law school’s grads into practice.

TWU president Bob Kuhn said the decision clears the way for the new law school, which is on track to open in the fall of 2016.

“This is also an important decision for all Canadians,” Kuhn said. “It says that there is room in a democratic country like Canada for a law school at a Christian university.”

Just Posted

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

The City of Victoria is once again offering $50,000 for selected neighbourhood enhancement projects, through its participatory budgeting program. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria neighbourhoods can earn city funding for projects

Up to $50,000 available for initiatives that enhance, enrich neighbourhoods

The Victoria Royals will return to the Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena for the first time since the 2019-20 campaign when they open next season against the Vancouver Giants on Oct. 2. (Black Press Media file photo)
Fans expected in the Save-On stands for Victoria Royals’ Oct. 2 home opener

It’ll be the first Western Hockey League action at the arena since March 2020

Police are looking for witnesses and video footage after a crash on June 18. (Photo courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP looking for videos related to Corvette crash

Driver believed to have fled the scene of View Royal crash

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

By the end of life, the average North American has eaten the weight of a family sedan in sugar. (Pixabay.com)
FITNESS: Living the sweet life without too much sugar

Simple choices can have a major impact on your health

Most Read